This past Saturday I decided to run a new squad at the Games and Stuff Store Championship in Glen Burnie. The classic Fel-Vader-Palpatine list is nice, but I wanted to do something a little different, making use of everyone’s most (or least) favorite TIE/fo pilot, Omega Leader. He’s dirt cheap, coming in at just 29 points with Comm Relay, Juke, and a Stealth Device, which is a couple points cheaper than Vader. But, I chucked Soontir out instead. I prefer Vader’s guaranteed crit, cheaper cost, and wanted him at PS 11 with Veteran Instincts. That left quite a number of points to play with. With ATC and VI on Vader, and a Sensor Jammer and Palpatine on the Shuttle, there were 7 points remaining. I took Stealth on Vader (we can debate that versus Engine another time).
For the shuttle, I ultimately decided on Counter-measures.
Yes, Counter-measures. It’s a real card. I promise. Go look it up. It’s probably the shim you’re using to keep your gaming table from wobbling.
3 point modification. At the start of combat you can discard it to increase your agility by 1 for the round and shake off a Target Lock.
My basic reasoning was pretty simple. If it helped me negate just 1 damage, it would have paid for itself as a Hull Upgrade. If it did any better than that, well bully for me. With folks like Omega Leader becoming more popular, losing that TL is especially handy. I’ve also seen enough rounds where Palpatine goes unused, saved for defense and then the shuttle rolls a natural evade. The second die is handy there. With 2 dice, a focus token, Sensor Jammer, and Palpatine, the shuttle can withstand a fair bit of incoming fire, for one round at least.
This is where the real benefit of Counter Measures comes in. A shuttle surviving 1 extra round generally means surviving 2 or 3 more, if not longer. Despite a lousy dial, it’s still fast like any other large base ship, it often doesn’t care really where it lands so long as no one is shooting it, it’ll brave rocks to get clear of enemies, and the stop maneuver really gums the enemy up. A missed chance to kill the shuttle is not easy to immediately follow up on.
That was the theory, and in practice in indeed worked as intended. In some games it wasn’t necessary, as the shuttle is often ignored. But, when it was getting focused down, only one time did the Counter Measures not help, and that was against a barrage of 3 TLT Y-Wings with Aggromechs.
In my third game, the shuttle had 3 TIE Advanceds with Accuracy Corrector shooting at Range 1. It took 3 total damage.
In my sixth game, Whisper had previously shot at the shuttle and had a Target Lock from Fire Control System. She then decloaked forward and K-turned behind the shuttle. If I recall correctly, it was a Range 1 shot. The shuttle popped the Counter-measures, shook the lock, and Whisper only got 2 natural hits, 1 converted into a harmless eyeball by the Sensor Jammer. 1 damage from a Range 1 shot from a (previously) target locked Phantom ain’t bad.
In the end, I’d say there’s a real case to be made for Counter-measures on the shuttle. There’s also a good argument for Engine Upgrade or a cannon. I’m not saying what’s the superior choice, and I think your local meta will make some difference (obviously C-M goes up in value around Omega Leader, Advanced Targeting Computers, and ordinance). My point is just that the upgrade is entirely viable. I was #4 out of 77 at the end of Swiss, though I lost in the first round of elimination to the eventual winner. Both of my losses that day were to Palpatine + Whisper and another ace (Omega or Vader).
With the Inquisitor on his way, coming in at only 29 points with VI and Autothrusters, the Palpatine + 2 Aces lists will probably be finding quite a bit more room for some additional hardware on the shuttle. Can definitely do worse.